San Antonio may be known as Alamo City, but there is much more than The Alamo to remember in this fun Central Texas town! Kids of all ages will enjoy water play, playgrounds, interactive museum exhibits, hikes, scenic strolls, gardens, and, yes, even educational and historical fun, in San Antonio.
San Antonio is one of my favorite Central Texas vacation destinations. With so many interesting places to explore–from the River Walk to the Spanish colonial missions–you can easily fill several days with outings that will delight the entire family, without breaking the bank. Here are a few of my family’s favorite stops in Alamo City.
Things to do in San Antonio with Kids
San Antonio River Walk
With five miles of beautifully landscaped waterways, one story below street level, the River Walk is the most picturesque part of downtown San Antonio. Start with lunch at the popular riverside restaurant Casa Rio, founded in 1946, before strolling on to visit the Alamo, the fountains by San Fernando Cathedral in Main Plaza, La Villita, and Hemisfair Park! Or, if you need to rest your feet, hop aboard a Rio San Antonio Cruise and enjoy an entertaining 35-minute narrated history of the San Antonio River Walk.
The Saga Light Show
Every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m., enjoy a 24-minute video art masterpiece on the facade of the San Fernando Cathedral. It’s a spectacular show and worth the effort to keep the kids up late to see it! One of the best free things to do in San Antonio, this event is outdoors, so it is weather-permitting.
Hemisfair Park–site of the 1968 World’s Fair–recently opened the awe-inspiring Yanaguana Garden, which offers big fun for little people: a splash pad, a giant sand pit, innovative structures for climbing, swinging, leaping, and sliding, an outdoor piano, and games for all ages! This great playground is conveniently located steps from the River Walk.
San Antonio Missions
San Antonio is home to five Spanish colonial missions: San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo), Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Espada. You can visit them via The Missions Trails hike and bike trail, or by car. There is no charge to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which is home to four of the missions. Plus, kids can become Junior Rangers while exploring the park – just pick up an Activity Book at any mission. It’s free!
San Antonio Botanical Garden
The 33-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden will give you a workout, but it’s a delightful place to spend a few hours, experiencing all manner of flora and fauna in a variety of settings. My kids loved visiting the Desert Pavilion, Tropical Room, Palm and Cycad Pavilion, and Fern Grotto, in addition to the many gardens and historical buildings. The Botanical Garden is not free, so make plans to stay awhile and really enjoy it!
The DoSeum is an amazing two-story indoor/outdoor adventure. Filled to the brim with cool interactive exhibits, San Antonio’s new children’s museum is a great place to spend the day learning by doing. Get drenched at Water Works, monkey around on The Big Climb, tackle math challenges at Spy Academy, and exercise while making melodies on a musical staircase! Admission is free for H-E-B Family Nights, every first and third Tuesday of the month, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Japanese Tea Garden
This unique 90-year-old public park, near the San Antonio Zoo in Brackenridge Park, is home to a 60-foot waterfall and a lily pond filled with koi. Housed in an abandoned limestone rock quarry, the Japanese Tea Garden is a neat place to explore with kids… and it’s free!
There is so much to do in San Antonio, you are sure to leave with a list of things that you want to try on your next visit. (Like, the San Antonio Zoo, and the Witte Museum, and McNay Art Museum…. See? It’s hard to stop!) For more ideas, read 20+ Free Things to do in San Antonio and then check out 17 Spots for Family Fun in San Antonio!